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this is known as giraffe pose....

Criss cross

Two giraffes mimic the shape of the tree in Uganda
Two giraffes mimic the shape of the tree in Uganda
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Behind The Lens

Uganda. Murchison Falls National Park during a new project to tell the story of the Uganda Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority anti poaching and conservation work there and at Queen Elizabeth National Park where a huge new initiative is underway.
I had this day as a free day to do a safari drive courtesy of the UWA/UCF. Our next stop was Murchison Falls itself before sunset so I didn't have a lot of time to stay with theses giraffes only time to request my driver to stop for this composition which I found compelling before moving on. They didn't start out in this position. They were separated standing close to one another and looking straight at me. Then a few minutes later they moved into this position.
This was shot in the late afternoon with nice front lighting on the giraffes that wasn't too harsh and therefore presented a nice photo opportunity giving me a lot of flexibility with regard to camera settings.
I used my Nikon D850 with a Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a panning plate all on top of a bean bag.
Without question it was the symmetry and mirroring of the shape of the tree by the giraffes that caught my eye. I have seen giraffe behaviour like this many times. It is designed to confuse potential prey however this was the first time I had spotted an opportunity to take that behaviour and anchor it to something else in the frame in a way that elevates the story and makes the connection between the elements in the scene amplifying the behaviour and drawing attention to the intelligence of wild animals and how they survive in a harsh environment.
I had to be very precise about my composition to keep the story on point without introducing distracting elements into the edges of the frame so this is full frame with no crop at all. In terms of processing this has only had the usual RAW processing you would need to bring out the full dynamic range and contrast with a normal amount of boost to the vibrance to help it pop on your screens. I tend to shoot in auto white balance and adjust in post processing in this case making it slightly warmer. It is often sunny and hot in Africa so the image should look warm and not cool!
In my camera bag
It really depends on what I am shooting and where in the world I am. I almost always carry a full range of lenses from 14mm up to 400mm in the range 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 plus teleconverters and a macro lens. All Nikon lenses as I really think they are the best when attached to Nikon cameras and I am not just saying that as one of the official faces of Nikon. I put my equipment through its paces in harsh environments and they really do perform under any conditions! I have a variety of monopods, tripods, panning plate and beanbag according what if any restrictions exist where I am going. I use the LEE filter system for ND and graduated ND landscape work everything from 1 stop up to 10 stops, cable release for long exposure, video head if I want to shoot more stable video footage. Drone, external flashes, at least 2 back up hard drives on the road, plenty of memory cards and spare batteries, battery grip for increased fps and longer battery life. I have made a big investment in my camera gear and I also insure it all.
With wildlife photography I think the genre is evolving and it needs to continue evolving. It is no longer impressive to capture tight portraits of animals. The internet is saturated with those kinds of images. Today it needs to be more about story telling and taking images to a more creative and compelling level. Not only for arts sake but also to keep bringing us closer to nature and trying to make us care more about what we are seeing in a hope it helps encourage more people to protect the natural world and our planet as a whole. My mind set going into the shot informed my decision for the final composition. I was familiar with the behaviour of the giraffes but saw an opportunity to elevate the shot by adding a complementary element to the scene, in this case the tree in the foreground. However, I still needed to find a way to achieve balance in the composition while including both elements and this was harder to achieve. Careful positioning and framing knowing I had plenty of good front lighting gave me a lot of flexibility with regards to camera settings so I could decide on an appropriate aperture of my choice. I didn't want too large a depth of field otherwise the background would have been distracting with too much detail but at the same time I didn't want too small a depth of field because I wanted the background to have enough detail to render some texture, set the scene and convey the natural habitat of the giraffes environment. Likewise I didn't want the foreground tree to have too much texture either. It was big enough in the frame so I didn't need to ensure it had a lot of distracting detail. The story after all was about the giraffes and not the tree so the focus point was on the animals with the tree complementing them not the other way around. However when shooting with a 400mm lens depth of field for a given aperture and camera to subject distance and subject to background distance doesn't change a lot compared to wider angle lenses. At least here the distance to the background from the giraffes and my distance from the vehicle to the giraffes was great enough to have some flexibility in texture rendering at different aperture settings compared to if I was much closer to the animals.

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